Death and Your Personal Possessions

by Wendy

For 30 years, I've collected "stuff". Older furniture that I dearly love, house plants, art products, funky things that adorn my home...

I wonder, when I depart this earth, who will want them? Will they end up, curbside, waiting for the garbage man?

Unfortunately, probably....

My sister's kids all have their own homes, all furnished with newer contemporary furniture. Who would want my dearly loved "old stuff"? Would would want art supplies? Nobody.

This was recently brought to mind when I house sat for a friend when her father died.

When I walked into her father's home for the first time, immediately I knew this one room was his MAN CAVE. The essence of his life permeated this whole large room. Unlike the rest of the 10-year old home, this room looked almost barn like with roof high rafters, a huge stone fireplace and all his collectibles and artifacts.

Despite knowing my friend for well over 30 years, I've never met her father. He was well known in the local community - a sod farmer, bird breeder (thousands in several large barns), and first Fire Chief locally.

Back to the room -- I was amazed as I had never been inside a room that so beautifully displayed a mans entire life.

As I traveled around the room, besides his desk, book shelves, computer, and easy chairs -- I viewed his fire truck and firefighters collections. Hand-carved wooden ducks (vintage quality). Stacks and stacks of magazines and books. He had bird trophies galore and stacks of blue ribbons hung for all the winning bird shows he attended over the years. He had farm implements hung high (antique ones, I'm thinking).

That's all I remember, but the room was full of this mans essence, his entire life on display... a monumental room honoring a mans life.

So back to my original thought... what happens to all his stuff?

My thought after I left the home:

Is the widow comforted with having his possessions and spirit nearby in the room?


Does this personal room feel a bit too close having just lost him?

A reminder of what she lost or a comfort to have him nearby still??

Comments for Death and Your Personal Possessions

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by: Anonymous

Create a museum or donate to some nearby museum
that will be best.
Put a small photo of donner with items,it will be memory.

Possession possess HUmen
by: moon

Last weekend there were many estates sales in our area. My friend dragged me to have fun time but this really make me very Sad That Those folks lived this wonderful life collected Stuff and spend a they are going in dollars and dimes.


Spend life working hard, buy a big house and start collecting stuff. We find pleasures in things and show and tell 'i bought this in some far away land' and impress others with our travels & trips....

I feel it is time to change and live a simple life with more Human connections. I heard this news that a man die and other found the him dead with the smell of rotten..... He has no one and left gold coins worth 7 millions will go to IRS.

hope he would have done some thing useful for the community with that money. We are the Nation of Hoarder and suffOlogist. SELF CENTER and EGOistic.

My Mother's Personal Possessions
by: Rita

I have so many possessions from my dear Mother, that was hers, her parents and her grandparents, now i am an old lady 81 year's old, the only family member left, and i worry what will become of these things, that Mom, treasured and i have treasured all these years.

There is a pink blown glass stocking darner, that my grandparents bought at the Chicago worlds fair, in 1905, when my Mom was 5 years old, also an old round light wood cheese box, with lid, about the size of a cookie tin, that my great grandmother, kept her Tobacco in, and it set on an old wood cook stove, an old, old plate with a picture of a white horse & brown colt, their heads hanging over the barn gate to a dog & bunch of puppies.

Then i have two sets of percale pillow cases, that my dear Mother did beautiful cut work embroidery on in the 1950's, never been used, wood crochet hooks hooks, tatting shuttles,an antique hanging mirror, two old hand mirrors,ect.ect.

Would anyone have any thoughts on what i can do with these things?

i have no family and no relatives to leave these to, i would appreciate any ideas, thoughts, suggestions.

Does what we love have any meaning to others?
by: Anonymous

I agree with most everything that has been said, what we have and love means nothing to others. My mother past away and left a wall fixture that she loved. All of us have moved away for our city to other points and had no need or want of the fixture. So what happens to it, we did find someone that took it in but it did make us think and start to get rid of a lot of stuff that we have collected over the years.

Two life times of personal possesions
by: Rita

Wendy, this is a great idea about dying & personal possessions, hopefully i can get some ideas on my things, that i worry about, i have no relatives to take my things, like a blown glass stocking darner, that my grandparents bought at the Chicago worlds fair 1905, a small cookie size box that cheese came in, in the 1800's, my great grandmother kept her tobbaco in on the old wood cook stove, a recipe book my Aunt wrote in 1919, old antique trinkets of all kinds. a wicker tray my folks bought in the 1920, a Bible given to my grandfather in 1888, a first edition book of Gone with the Wind, photo albums galore, and many other things, wood crochet hooks, tatting schuttles.

These things will most likely be thrown away, it is very sad for me, my Mother, treasured them and i do also, but there is no one left.

Anyone have any thoughts for me?

Wendy: Rita, why don't you look for a museum in your area that might want your items? You could make arrangements that they get them after you are gone.

If you are in need of cash, consider selling them at an auction or something so that you know they go to folks who will cherish them as you do.

Go to your local library and tell them about your plight and see if they have any suggestions.

You might want to put them all in one area, one box, whatever.... and write a "To Whom It May Concern" letter telling them what is what, and where it came from. On the antique shows, they always say the history of the article makes it more valuable... so take the time to record it for the next generation!

Finally, take photos and post them on this site here so everyone can see them. Tell us a bit about each object -- and share them with the world.

My "stuff" is just stuff I love. Your "stuff" is vintage and should be kept and appreciated by others!!

Best Wishes!!

Things we leave behind
by: Irwin L

I have enjoyed reading Wendy's comments regarding this subject as well as everyone else's posting.

I think that it all boils down to what the person or persons that passed wanted. Assuming a will was provided, perhaps that little piece of paper will indicate who is to receive what.

But as the general concensus of opinion appears to be, it depends on who will be responsible for making arrangements for the disposal of the estate.

Knowing what each child may want ahead of time would be nice - then that stipulation could be made in the will. Otherwise, hopefully they will each remove what best reminds them of those that passed and make arrangements to dispose of the balance of the items to others in need (Goodwill, Salvation Army, homeless shelter and what have you).

We are here but a short time and then we are gone - but memories of those recently departed (or even those departed many years ago) remain with us in our hearts forever.

Enjoy them while you're alive
by: Bett

Hi, Wendy!

I can identify with your thoughts about what will happen to your possessions when you die. I have no partner nor children and I am fairly sure none of my relatives will be interested in keeping my collections or cherished items.

As a person gets older you start thinking about stuff like this. At first it bothered me that most likely my possessions will be donated to thrift shops or (hopefully not) just trashed.

But now I feel that the important thing is that I enjoy my possessions while I'm alive. With that in mind, I've gradually been clearing out the possessions that don't have special significance to me and/or that I don't feel a pang of regret when I put them on the pile to give out.

If my possessions have been well loved and enjoyed while I'm alive, that's good enough for me. :)

~ Bett

Death and your personal possessions
by: Judy Marriott

I wonder too! I have so many angels in my home, that I have collected over the years. I also have some owls, and furniture that my mother and father left to me. Will my children really want these "things"? I don't know.

We have lived in this senior citizen mobile home park for nearly 28 years. We have seen many of our fellow neighbors leave this earth. How sad, to see some of the really older mobile homes completely demolished, with nothing left that our friends ever lived in here.

Some newer homes have new families, some sit vacant. The vacant homes are sad indeed - a reminder of the wonderful people that once inhabited them.

We are here for a brief time, a blink of an eye. It is my thought that we will become a memory in the hearts of the families we leave behind, with nothing left to show we were ever here except our invisible footprints we have left behind.

Lifetime Possesions
by: Joe W.


Hi! It's a good question to find out how different people deal with the death of a family member and their left behind possessions. I suppose most of these end up in estate auctions where everything is liquidated to make it easier for people to split any sales proceeds as compared to fighting over these same possessions.

Also, I think the sentimental value of any possessions in most cases remains with the owner that purchased them. In a recent news event there is the story of the individual that owned a very rare baseball card collection, which probably brought him immense pleasure beside the monetary value.

When he died there was a note left behind for his heirs to look around the whole house and you will find something unique. I'm sure the attic was the last place where anyone would want to look around. So, of course the rare baseball card collection was found in the attic among other 'old things' and apparently the collection is valued at over $3 Million.

What to do with this rare collection? Some people will think that it should be held back to remember the deceased, and of course the value of the rare collection can only go up. However; I think that most people would want to sell it because they personally don't have any attachment to the collection other than let's sell it and distribute the cash.

Joe W.

Wendy: Thanks Joe... very interesting!!

depends on the relationship
by: Anonymous

Hi Wendy,

I guess it depends on the widow and her feelings concerning the loss of someone she has known for a very long time.

My motherinlaw lost her husband 2 years ago and they had a close relationship and were married for 65 years. She has left his favourite chair in it's place along with the magazines he loved to browse through.

Everything on his side of the garage is still there. His office is still as he left it. His tools and workshop are still the same way, although she did give some tools to her son and soninlaw, as they said they could put them to good use.

On the other hand... my neighbour lost her husband last month and since then she has cleaned out every closet in the house, given her husband's clothes to a good charity, and given away everything except for their photos. They were also very close and married over 60 years.

When my mom lost her long-time partner she gave up his personal possessions over a two year period. So it is a personal choice and the right person always comes along at some point, who will cherish what was left behind.


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